They say art reflects life and, while they may exaggerate, films do represent some very real workplace situations. The funniest usually involve some kind of misconduct 😲
We’ve bought together our favourite six examples of misconduct in films for your laughing pleasure. Let’s hope they don’t resemble your workplace!
(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
Nine to Five (1980)
This film stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as three working women whose boss regularly threatens to fire his female employees, take credit for their ideas and harass them. For example, when the photocopying machine malfunctions, the boss, Hart, yells at Judy (Fonda) and threatens to fire her on her first day on the job. That being said, the appropriate way to deal with a terrible boss is probably not to kidnap them and hold them hostage in their own home after they find out you almost accidentally killed them with rat poison. There are easier channels to report their misconduct and implement fair and non-discriminatory workplace policies.
Horrible Bosses (2011)
Horrible Bosses follows the plight of three friends, played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, who, each dealing with the inappropriate behaviour of a boss, hire a ‘murder consultant’ to help them to kill each of their bosses. While Nick’s (Bateman) boss, David Harken (Kevin Spacey), is pretty awful to begin with, taunting Nick with the possibility of a promotion only to award it to himself, the true psychopathic tendencies of this horrible boss come out later on when he tries to frame Nick, Dale (Day) and Kurt (Sudeikis) for a murder he committed. It’s pretty safe to say Fair Work would probably take a pretty dim view on Harken’s behaviour.
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) navigates the ins and outs of the highly competitive environment of Runway fashion magazine, while managing the high expectations of her boss, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). While TDWP does a great job in portraying Priestly as a hardworking boss lady, breaking glass ceilings and taking names, it also highlights the difficulties faced by many assistants whose jobs are demanding and all-consuming. The comments made by Emily (Emily Blunt), Priestly’s senior assistant, regarding her diet regime of one cube of cheese, and the frequent jokes made at Runway about Andy’s ‘Size 6’ figure, reflect unhealthy practices in the workplace. While Streep is great in this movie, the perpetuation of an inappropriate workplace culture is not.
13 Going On 30 (2004)
Waking up in your 30-year-old body as your 13-year-old self sounds like a dream, right? However, the stark realisation that your professional misconduct is costing you your integrity and important relationships, will be sure to bring you hurtling back down to earth. While the iconic Thriller dance scene highlights how a spontaneous flash mob is always the solution to all of your problems, leaking company secrets and having affairs with the husbands of co-workers is employee behaviour that is best left in the past.
Liar Liar (1997)
Jim Carrey’s brilliant portrayal of Fletcher Reede, a career-focused lawyer, who, as a result of his son’s birthday wish, finds himself unable to lie, highlights the pitfalls of dishonesty and unethical thinking in the workplace. As Reede’s lies start to catch up with him, to the point that he beats himself up in the court bathroom, claiming that he was attacked, to try and get out of his case, Reede’s poor behaviour is a clear case study of how doing the wrong thing in the workplace can lead to damaging consequences.
The Proposal (2009)
While this film does many things right (see: Betty White), the relationship between Sandra Bullock’s Margaret Tate and her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), is a key example of a misuse of power and hierarchy in the workplace. Margarets’s actions throughout the film, including inviting herself to Andrew’s family home and trying to feed his dog to an eagle after it takes off with her phone, are clear signs of a problematic boss-employee relationship. While no one can deny that we weren’t all rooting for Margaret and Andrew to end up together in the end, bullying your assistant into marrying you under threat of deportation is misconduct.